Saturday, 31 May 2014

Product Review: Secret Training Race Informed Products

Yesterday I was invited to the launch of Secret Training Informed Products. This is the latest venture from Tim Lawson who is a European Champion Track Cyclist but is perhaps better known for the company he launched 20 years ago from his family's kitchen, Science in Sports.


One of these men is currently launching his second highly successful business
The whole ethos of the STRIP product range is to make racing as comfortable and hygienic as possible on the day of your event.

I spent the morning with Tim at the Cyclo Park in Gravesend (which I thoroughly recommend cyclists of all ages and abilities check out) who has clearly been working hard on this project for a number of years.

Along with some other journalists I got to try out the range before and after some intensive cycling and they certainly succeed in doing the job they were designed for.

I give my initial thoughts in the video below but hope to follow up with more in depth testing asthe racing season continues.

        

For more information head over to www.secret-training.cc.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Race report round up

So it's been a while since my last post. The last you heard I was all enthused about the penultimate event in the EGTri Winter GP - the hill time trial. Unfortunately I didn't make it due to Toddler Trihard developing a vomiting bug on the Saturday which I then came down with on the Sunday morning, when I should have been struggling up hills on my bike.

This has led to the club chairman referring to this blog as a bit of a soap opera. "He's ill, then he's alright again. He's ill, then he's alright again. It's like Eastenders, if you watch it long enough you'll see the same storylines keep coming round."

Anyway, despite that setback I have been training hard and recently have had the opportunity to see if the work had paid off.

7Oaks

So Sunday 27 April was the 7Oaks Triathlon. No I haven't taken leave of my grammatical senses, I'm adopting the same cool branding that the club uses. This was an event I took part in last year so meant that I had a time to hopefully beat.

While 7Oaks is a "sprint" distance, the distances are slightly different to other races. This comprises of a 400m pool swim, a 25km cycle and an 8km run (generally sprints are 500m, 25km 5km).

After last year's race I felt that (other than the swim) the course was more challenging than an Olympic distance race (1km, 40km, 10km) I'd done the previous year. The cycle is incredibly hilly (including one real long b*stard of an ascent) and the run is just 8km of hell (mainly uphill for the first half).

2013: If I'd known what I was in for during the run, I wouldn't be looking so cheerful
Last year I walked most of the first part of the run and practically pulled up a chair for a chat with the marshals at the halfway water station. I reasoned that if I could at least avoid walking then I should be able to beat last year's time of 2 hrs 2 mins 51 secs.

The swim went well and despite the weather not being as pleasant as last year I took the brave decision to do the bike section in just my tri suit. This would hopefully limit transition time and reduce drag from extra clothing on the bike course (that's how serious I'm getting these days!)

I'm not sure whether it's the amount of bike work I've done or having lost a bit of weight in recent months but to my surprise the b*stard wasn't quite as tough as I remembered it. Don't get me wrong, it was still a b*stard but perhaps an awkward b*stard as opposed to an evil b*stard.

2014: Me and the b*stard - hey the camera takes off a few degrees of steepness

As I hadn't been able to note what time I started the bike section I was unsure whether I had been quicker than last year but it certainly felt faster and I also went into the run feeling a lot fresher.

That changed as soon as I started up the first hill. I didn't quite feel like I needed to stop and walk but the pace I was "running" at didn't feel much quicker than walking. However I made it to the halfway water station and didn't stop for a chinwag like I did last year. After that it was mainly downhill.

By that time I'd worked out that I was probably on course to beat last year's time by about 5 mins. I felt as though I could push myself harder but as the same time didn't want to run out of steam, particularly as the last 200m involves a hill which, in my opinion, requires a chairlift. I did resort to walking at that point but my heart rate was still around the same level as though I was sprinting on a flat surface.

Had I paid for two or three hours of parking?
I finally made it to the top and charged to the finish line - in 1 hr 56 mins 1 sec. 6 mins and 50 secs faster than last year. I was absolutely ecstatic.

EG Tri Sprint Triathlon

This Saturday was the final event of the EGTri Winter GP where club members get to race the EGTri course. The rules of the club are that you can only enter the official race the first year you are a member as the race doesn't marshal itself!

This was therefore the fourth time I've done the course (the official race in my first year and then three times as part of the Winter GP.) Last year, which was my best time yet, I did it in 1 hr 37 mins 11 secs.

After 7Oaks I was still feeling quite tired and not as fired up as I'd been the week before. I was hoping to perhaps take 5 mins off last year's time but would settle for a new PB even if it was by a few seconds.

As it's a mass start I said I'd go at the back of my lane as I wasn't feeling 100%. However I soon regretted my decision as I felt I could swim a lot faster than those in front.

The swim rules are that if you want to overtake the person in front then you tap them on the foot so they can let you pass at the end of the lane. Despite four lengths of me constantly grabbing my fellow members foot he wouldn't budge. I started getting really frustrated but then decided to let it go as I knew getting angry wouldn't do any favours.

Once we were out of the pool I grabbed my bike (this time pulling on a top) and set off for the 25km cycle. Halfway through I really started to feel the exertions of the previous week. Another mile or two later my back was killing me, I'd slowed right down and had more or less given up on beating last year's time.

Just pain, no pleasure
However I then had a flash of determination, (or more likely my high caffeine, carbohydrate drink kicking in) got my head down and started pedalling. As I pulled into the transition area I realised that I was actually further ahead of last year's time than I thought. Even with a slow 5k I could still beat it.

However I was really hurting at that point.

I gritted my teeth, downed a carbohydrate and caffeine gel (which almost came straight back up again) and trudged on. As I made it to the finish line I was amazed to see that I'd finished in 1 hr 28 mins 42 secs - 8 mins 39 secs quicker than last year. This season's getting interesting!